National Album Day was founded in 2018 with the sole purpose being to ‘praise the album format’  and acknowledge the huge impact it’s had on British pop-culture over the decades. Here at The Turntable, we’re thrilled to be a part of this nation-wide celebration which returns on October 16th 2021 with the theme of Celebrating Women In Music. We’ll have exclusive releases instore and events will be going ahead all over the country in recognition of this, however in this week’s blog post, we wanted to celebrate this year’s theme by shining a light on the fierce and wonderful women who have had a significant impact on the music industry throughout the years.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
If you haven’t had the honour of witnessing this woman in action, stop what you’re doing and follow the link below. Sister Rosetta Tharpe is everything you could ever want in a musician. She’s smooth, effortless, and completely mesmerising. With her refined 60’s fashion, mind-blowing guitar skills and deep gospel vocals, it’s clear to see why Bob Dylan referred to her as ‘a powerful force of nature’  . Tharpe began her musical career singing with her mother at local churches before then moving to New York and breaking the colour line by touring with white singers and becoming a guitar playing and singing evangelist, inspiring rock and roll legends such as Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley. Her biggest hits include ‘Up Above My Head’ (1956) and ‘Didn’t It Rain’ (1959).
There are few people in the world who aren’t aware of the legend that is Aretha Franklin. She was the ‘Queen of Soul’ who enjoyed a hugely successful music career which spanned over six decades. But what was it that made her such an iconic figure? Musically, Franklin gained huge success throughout her career winning a total of 18 Grammy awards and being the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987  . But she didn’t stop there, ‘Respect’ (1967) was arguably one of Franklin’s most famous songs, and she used her musical platform to demand gender and racial equality. She recognised that music could be a weapon, and used this to her advantage in supporting the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960’s. Franklin perfectly bridged the gap between music and politics, inspiring future generations in the years that followed.
In the folk world, Joni Mitchell’s album ‘Blue’ (1971) is nothing less than legendary. During this time, Mitchell was one of the few women who were writing their own music rather than regurgitating the classics. What makes ‘Blue’ such an iconic album is its minimalism. The stripped back instrumentation really heightens her painfully honest and emotional lyrics.
Mitchell was self-invented, true to herself and impossible to put into one category. It is because of this that she has gone on to inspire the likes of Taylor Swift and Elbow’s Guy Garvey in their song writing.
There couldn’t possibly be a list of fierce women musicians without Stevie Nicks being at the forefront. Nicks was the rebellious, gypsy-inspired songstress who helped carve Fleetwood Mac into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame by producing classics such as ‘The Chain’ (1977), ‘Dreams’ (1977) and then, later on in her solo career, anthems such as ‘Edge of Seventeen’ (1981). Nicks is just as iconic today as she was back then. She empowered women to embrace their voice and sexuality through her lyric work and distinctive style. Her songs echo through the generations, with artists such as Florence Welch still trying to capture her diverse and free-spirited nature.
If you didn’t already know, Debbie Harry is the punk-inspired frontwoman of Blondie, the band who produced the ground-breaking album ‘Parallel Lines’ back in 1978. With her bleach blonde hair and defiant attitude, Harry quickly changed the way women in bands were perceived. She showed that women can be rock stars too, particularly through her bold fashion statements that shocked and transformed femininity. Her style had a ‘thrift-store’ energy to it,
making her appealing to the younger, working classes who followed in her footsteps to defy the pre-existing notions of womanhood. The band are as strong today as ever, with Blondie still finding ways to produce bold and experimental new music.
There are many ways Amy Winehouse has impacted society, both musically and through her tragic battles with various addictions and poor mental health. She was a working-class girl from London who was expelled from school due to a ‘lack of application’, but through her genuine love and passion for old-school music, she created a soulful and bluesy jazz-inspired sound that was distinct amongst others. She had an eclectic mix of musical influences due to her being raised listening to artists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, but after her brother introduced her to hip-hop artists Salt-N-Pepa  , Amy combined these loves and went on to produce the albums ‘Frank’ (2003) and ‘Back to Black’ (2007). Winehouse was a mesmerising songwriter who had a way of instilling genuine, raw emotion into her work, making her death even more tragic, as her suffering was written in the music.
As far as women musicians go, they don't get more iconic than Beyonce. Within an article for the BBC, she is called ‘the undisputed wearer of pop music’s crown’  , and quite rightly so. Beyonce’s musical career is now entering its third decade, and yet she still finds ways
of remaining fresh and experimental within this hugely saturated industry. Beyonce paves the way for emerging musical talent, inspiring future generations of women to be tough, resilient and fierce. Within her latest album ‘Lemonade’ (2016), like Aretha Franklin, Beyonce uses her musical platform to shine a light on issues relating to feminism and racial inequality. With each album that passes, Beyonce continues to grow as a musician and an icon, though we suspect
she still has more to come. Were you looking for someone who hasn’t quite made the cut?
Who are your favourite female musicians and why? Let us know in the comments below!
Written for The Turntable by Hannah Robinson-Wright. Hannah is a 24-year-old aspiring author and poet from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. After achieving a first-class degree in English Literature, she is now completing a Masters at the Manchester Writing School and spends her free time exploring Huddersfield's idyllic countryside, maintaining a vegan food blog and performing around the UK with various musical projects.
 Information on National Album Day: https://www.nationalalbumday.co.uk/about/
 Information on Sister Rosetta Tharpe: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-
 Information on Amy Whinehouse:
 Information on Aretha Franklin: https://time.com/5369587/aretha-franklin-civil-
 Information on Beyonce: https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20150415-beyonc-